Living in a world of constant technological change, we tend to forget how revolutionary the rise of coloured-television programming was in the mid 60’s. The introduction of televisions in many household’s significantly changed the media landscape, as well as the way entertainment was consumed. Of course, because of the emergence of Netflix & various on-demand services, as well as the ease of access to television, our generation never fully experienced the idea of television as a communal experience. Having three televisions, a laptop and a Netflix subscription, I almost never watch a programme or film with my family anymore (except perhaps on Christmas Day). In defence of communal television consumption, I do miss the years when every Saturday night at 7:30 , my family and I, without fail, would gather in the lounge room to watch the latest episode of ‘Doctor Who’. However, despite that experience, I decided it would be much more interesting to ask my father about his first experiences with the television.
My father, Olivier Andre Clement, was born in Paris in 1959 and was raised in his Grandmother’s house. During my conversation with him, he established that his Grandmother owned a television for as long as he could remember. However, he also acknowledged that because, at first, there was only one television channel at the time, his family would often gather and listen to radio broadcasts, rather than television. When his family did watch television, it would often be during dinner as the T.V. , in his grandmother’s house, was located in the dining room. Most of the time, it was the news that the family would watch, although he does mention one of the first shows he watched from 1965 called “Belphégore ” which revolved a ghost haunting the Louvre museum in Paris. The program was particularly frightening to my dad, especially the ghostly figure itself, which he described as having a “long, black cloak”. Although , he did admit that he was very easily frightened as a child. Later on in the conversation, I asked him where he sees television in the next 10 years and whether watching television will still be a collective thing. His response to the question was almost identical to the one I would have made. My father believes that television will no longer be a communal experience, principally because with all the technology available, an individual can choose what they want to watch whenever and the enormous amount of variety in content means that audiences are much more picky in what they wish to consume.
So, in writing this and having discussed with my father about the communal experience that was television, I’m rather sad to say that a television audience no longer consists of many, but rather of just one.